Ford star Mark Winterbottom says a run of three or four consecutive victories could be all it takes to win this year’s Supercars championship.
Nissan’s Michael Caruso became the 10th different driver to win a race in 2016 with his race-one victory last month at Darwin, an event which left Holden ace Jamie Whincup on top of the championship standings.
Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin as well as Holden’s Tim Slade and Shane Van Gisbergen are the only drivers this year to win more than one race.
Van Gisbergen, who won race two in Darwin, is the only driver to win on different weekends with McLaughlin and Slade both taking out their races at the same event.
Winterbottom and the Supercars’ field return to Townsville this weekend, the event where the Prodrive Racing Australia driver claimed back-to-back wins in 2015.
He then backed that effort up with two more victories at the following event at Queensland Raceway, setting up a championship lead which would prove unassailable.
Winterbottom said a similar run from a driver this year would prove decisive.
“It’s just a matter of getting a run – that’s what’s got to change,” he said.
“Someone’s got to win and get three or four in a row.
“That’s what happened last year for us and instantly got a 200-point lead but I don’t see that happening this year. It’s just not playing out that way.
“Every round’s like a different story. It’s not like you’re miles off the pace. You might finish third or fourth.
“Some tracks and the soft tyre as well, for strategy, really suits some people and you see teams collectively doing well on those days.”
Already a seven-time race winner at Townsville, Whincup looks to be carrying good pace into this weekend, topping the timesheets in Friday’s practice.
The Red Bull Racing driver clocked a best lap of one minute and 12.5530 seconds to finish ahead of Winterbottom’s teammate Chaz Mostert (1:12.5995) and Holden’s Will Davison (1:12.7206).
Despite the pace, Whincup was talking down his chances of picking up an eighth Townsville win in Saturday’s 200km race.
“Once again, we aren’t sitting here fully confident we are going to have a clean weekend but happy to finish on top – it’s a little win,” Whincup said.
“We have some serious work to do overnight again to ensure we stay competitive ahead of tomorrow.”
V8 SUPERCARS RACE WINNERS IN 2016:
* 2: Scott McLaughlin (Volvo), Shane Van Gisbergen (Holden), Tim Slade (Holden)
* 1: Mark Winterbottom (Ford), Jamie Whincup (Holden), Craig Lowndes (Holden), Michael Caruso (Nissan), Will Davison (Holden), Nick Percat (Holden), James Courtney (Holden)